Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review # 60: "X-Men Legacy - 'Divided He Stands' and "Sins of the Father'"

Spread across multiple series, the "Divided We Stand" event saw members of the X-Men find themselves. No one had more of themselves to find than Charles Xavier. Shot in the head to conclude the events of "Messiah Complex," Professor X's body was abducted (thanks to Tempo) by the Acolytes. Under the watch of former lover Amelia Voght, first-class asshole Frenzy and New Excalibur tag-along Omega Sentinel, 90s overkill character Exodus attempts to repair what remains of Charles' fractured mind. Things aren't going well until the at-the-time powerless Magneto appears at Xavier's bedside, psychically drawing his old friend and rival out of his coma.

This reveals the meat-and-potatoes of "X-Men Legacy" as Charles tries to rebuild his memory based on what others remember. He gets a lot from Magneto, reliving their entire rivalry. The conclusion they reach is blunt and damn-near prophetic on the part of Mike Carey. How the Marvel Universe has shaped up in recent years drives this point home. With Charles up and moving again, he battles Exodus psychically for his freedom and - with an assist from Magneto - earns it.

I have a difficult time describing just how great these first three issues are, since they're mainly talk, but you won't find a better examination of the relationship between Magneto and Professor X out there, particularly their place in the 21st Century. Carey knocks it out of the park, doing in one issue what Grant Morrison - in my opinion - failed to in "Planet X." Morrison improperly ripped Magneto to shreds to make him seem useless in today's day and age, practically ignoring what the character had become over the previous 20 years. Carey has much more respect for Magneto, leaving much more on the table as a result.

Regardless, this is Charles' story and - while I believe the opening three issues represent the peak of these two trades - there's still a lot more to go through. His quest to fill in the blanks in his own past takes him back to the research base where his father worked alongside geneticist Nathaniel Essex, better known as Mr. Sinister. It's there that Charles learns that Sinister had played a greater role in his life than he'd ever known, influencing some of his decisions and his drive from the very beginning. That part of Sinister's meddling isn't that malicious. What IS malicious is Sinister was creating a device that would allow his DNA to take over that of another upon his death. Young Charlie kept some notable company, including Sebastian Shaw and Juggernaut. However, Shaw's father knew of Sinister's schemes and built a counteractive machine. Juggernaut, meanwhile, is protected by the mystics of Cytorrak. That leaves ol' Professor X's noggin to take control of, and that's exactly what Sinister attempts.

These two trades are excellent when it comes to character study, touching on X-Men history from its beginnings to the now. My favourite parts of these books are the flashback sequences (drawn by several guest artists including John Romita Jr., Billy Tan, Greg Land - ugh - and others,) lending a new side to the events that make Xavier the man he is. It's also quite redeeming. Charles has not been a perfect man by any stretch, but he is still a hero, something that Carey effectively restores after years of Professor X being on the defensive. Charles is finally back in a good place, though his usefulness remains questionable.

Rating(s): 9/10 ("Divided He Stands"), 7.5/10 ("Sins of the Father")

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